Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Feminism and Frankenstein

A cornered animal will fight the fight of its life, and subjugated people will eventually “unfold their faculties”—with or without permission.   The forces that founded feminism were the same forces that both shaped and disfigured its founder, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797).  Mary Wollstonecraft’s amazing and tragic life/death seems only superseded by her incredible writings.  Rarely have I read anything as compelling, brilliant and enervating as her essay: “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.”  Certainly her female intellect was in no way unschooled or unfolded (as she claimed); she had a rare and penetrating style that probed human nature (and dare I say female nature) very deeply and affectively.  She may have begrudged men and their easier atmosphere in which to unfold their faculties in, but like the wonderful and brilliant butterfly, unleashed and mightily displayed in the open and vacant air, wrought from its many struggles, subjugations and tremendously confining atmospheres—where miracles of metamorphic magnitude occur regularly—a benign and forgotten caterpillar breaks forth upon the world’s senses as an altogether different and more glorious creature than one could have imagined only yesterday.  Likewise, the metamorphosis that her writings hinted at as she lay frozen beneath their weight and force—in the early years before she could be discovered in her proper context with men—was not her tomb but her womb; she did not live long enough, however, to realize the impact her unfolded and specific colors—which she demonstrated through exceptional articulation—were to have upon the discerning ears of both men and women.  Perhaps her subjugation lies more in the amount and weight of the many folds of her tremendously gifted and well-developed soul—which required more unfolding and a more elaborate ceremony commensurate with the extent of her multitudinous faculties—rather than the discriminatory and male-dominated atmosphere she was being raised in.

Wollstonecraft was undoubtedly an extremely intelligent woman who may have been marginalized by the societal constraints of her day, but perhaps her eloquence and pertinence were also sharpened by the tension created by these same constraints.  It just seems doubtful that such poignant writing could occur outside the flames of so many fiery trials.  The picture of Mary Wollstonecraft is the picture of a short and tragic life—and the child she bore as she expired—continued to unfold her story.  How ironic is it that Wollstonecraft should walk right into the teeth of the French Revolution, and just when she decried the subjugation of a woman’s intellect, the Romantic era (which decried everyone’s intellect) was birthed?  At the zenith of man’s intellectual powers (maybe woman’s was in tow?) the whole world went mad and threw off the rational mind for imagination.  Then to top that off, she became pregnant with one of the Romantic eras greatest heroines, Mary Shelly; her Frankenstein monster becoming the very touchstone caricature of the new day seems to ridicule all that Wollstonecraft was aiming for in her proceeding day.  From mother Mary to daughter Mary we learn that the cartoon-like end to man’s scribbling intellect is animated flesh: an outraged imagination only coloring what the intellectual governor gives it.

Wollstonecraft’s femininity could never rise to such depravity; she was simply unable to rise at all—and longed for the opportunity to see just how far she could rise if not restrained by the male-dominated society of her day.  Interestingly enough, however, is how the Mary from her own body summed up the male experiment in demonstrating the madness of intellectual children. Wollstonecraft identified only in essence to maleness (not in strength); implicit in her words is identification with the end of rationality (women simply reaching the end quicker than men).  She died by essentially birthing the Romantic era; how ironic is it for her life to end this way?  Being subjugated gave her insight which even she could not comprehend; her whole life story is a treasure trove of prophetic and illuminating realities of the human condition.  She ultimately vindicated the weaker sex—not by the strength of her female convictions or the brilliance of her feminine mind (as great as they were)—but by her shared participation with the father of her child in creating their daughter Mary Shelley.  It simply takes both the male and female expression to represent the whole of human experience and fully epitomize the human condition.  Just as Jesus Christ represents El Shaddai, the father/mother God, and must be replicated in mankind to save them, so Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster, drawn from both her female imagination and the dead male flesh of the monster, so is the full expression of our human condition outside a salvation experience with Jesus Christ.  
There has always been room enough in this deep and wide cosmos for the full expression of all the faculties of all the entities God has made: male, female, young, old, human, animal, and even celestial.  God might also speak into his own world, and therefore there is time and space for that too.  But, unbeknownst to many, God often frustrates those who are apt to unfold themselves before their time (or, specifically, the time of their transformation).  Only the Christian, and specifically Christ within the Christian, is a proper and lawful unfolding; the unfolding of the revelation of Jesus Christ is the only proper unfolding of our faculties.  To unfold our faculties before the full revelation of Jesus Christ unfolds in us is to create our own Frankenstein monster; being subjugated or frustrated by God and circumstances is often a saving grace.  To be elevated and fully expressed before one is converted to Christianity is to allow the first Adam to flower; it is damnation manifested.  Mary Wollstonecraft insisted on expression, unfolded her faculties in a fallen world, replicated herself by birthing Mary Shelley, and animated dead flesh.  Consequently, feminism is rebellion against one’s own nature; impertinence against all that is truly human.  It is the horror of animating flesh before resurrection day and the faithless stance that allows no room for God to elevate and define his own creation in his own way, on his own terms, and in his own time. 
Moreover, all through ancient literature and Holy Scripture feminine beauty is that beauty which is derived and defined from a masculine perspective.  This is no commentary about the equality /inequality of the sexes, except to distinguish mankind’s posture from God’s.  We are the bride of Christ, and we need His masculine posture to define our feminine one.  Our eternal beauty is only a reflecting one of His.  He beautifies by His love; we are worthless, unloved, and without our own internal beauty without Him first loving us. This is an unequivocally established principle throughout Scripture and much ancient literature.  I believe Byron, in She walks in beauty is saying exactly this; the innocent heart at peace within the seat of emotional man is best described as “she” in the “tender light” of “the night” which the “gaudy day denies.”  She walks in beauty which walks in less than the full light of enlightenment, and the feminine posture is the posture of faith—that posture we must all walk in (both male and female)—if we ever expect to arrive at our gender specific and individual destiny (which is only found in context and relationship to God and to others).